Volume 43, Number 168,
January-March 2012

Atlas: Climate Change Scenario on the Yucatán Peninsula, Roger Orellana, Celene Espadas, Cecilia Conde, Carlos Gay, cicy (Natural Resources Unit); unam (Center for Atmospheric Sciences); conacyt (fomix: Combined Fund conacyt - Yucatán State Government); seduma - Yucatán State Government; sidetey, onu-pnud, Mérida, Yucatán, 2009, 111 pp.

When research on certain key topics reveals new contributions to our knowledge base, such as the issue presented here, we must do no less than congratulate ourselves and give the warmest welcome to the release of the book that is the focus of this review. Not only does this book explore the ins and outs of the imminent problem of climate change, but it also provides findings on an important number of topics in the field of physical and applied geography. This book goes beyond enriching our knowledge base by outlining scenarios that are unfortunately close in our future, given the context of increasing inequality of wealth distribution and fewer options to confront this problem. The book, or rather, its findings, is a rich document that illuminates many likely and possible scenarios that could come about as a result of global warming, focused on the specific case of Mexico. Although the book does not explicitly say so, it is a call to action for those who want to commit themselves to changing social policies for public spaces. This landmark work will spark academics to undertake new investigations in diverse social science fields, inspiring the exploration of new variables in interdisciplinary research that both build upon and intersect with the vital issue of global environmental change.

This Atlas: Climate Change Scenario on the Yucatán Peninsula, edited under the auspices of various national and international scientific and governmental institutions, is a great example that should be replicated for other geographic areas and/or territories on both a national and international level. This text will become a necessary tool to design public development policies. Topics like this must not only be talked about but also understood as a crucial part of designing national and regional development plans

The authors combine a brief, didactic and serious tone with careful editing and presentation to present this study on climate change in the Yucatán Peninsula, which encompasses the southeastern Mexican states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. Four models are used in the analysis (chosen from among 23 existing models) to measure, based on essentially stochastic hypothesis, possible scenarios that could occur in the region studied with a focus on the year 2020. This study makes use of a significant number of primary sources to project temperature and precipitation levels for the time period in question.

The study projects two average annual temperature scenarios, which the authors use to apply the selected models. The first contains different variants of emission A, while the other uses those corresponding to emission B. Based on these scenarios the study deploys various temperature calculations along the Yucatán Peninsula. Maps of ten projections for each of the scenarios are included for the year 2020. The results reveal important temperature increases for all possible scenarios as well as a significant decrease in precipitation for some territories and an increase for others. Once again, the authors include detailed maps to represent the projections. The phenomenon of the intra-estival drought, which takes place during the hottest days of summer, is taken into great consideration here, as it was in climate projections for 2020 made using a base scenario of 1961-1990. Some results of this analysis are highly worrisome for the region due to the following: 1) radical changes in climate distribution and 2) increase in the surface space of arid zones. The Atlas also includes 528 ombrothermic diagrams (indexes that measure precipitation efficiency related to temperature), which are rather useful for those who may be considering plans to create rural-urban settlements in certain territories of the studied region.

The final work is the important, interdisciplinary result of a team of scientists with national and international recognition for research in their respective fields of specialty. There are experts in atmospheric sciences, such as Carlos Gay and Cecilia Cone. However, I must highlight one author, who is both the driving force and creator of this Yucatán Peninsula project: Roger Orellana. He is a researcher with a vast body of work on the southeastern region of Mexico and a teacher of younger generations on themes as wide-ranging as ecology and natural resources. Proof of his impact is the inclusion of co-author Celene Espadas, who was one of his students.

In keeping with the nature of this study, there is no single conclusion. The most important and valuable aspect of this work is that it is an indispensable source to consult for scientists from a wide variety of fields, including applied geography as well as specific atmospheric science research. To a large extent, it will also serve social scientists like myself, as we study socioeconomic problems in regional spaces.

Exploring possible scenarios is a necessary and indispensable tool for territorial planning. The authors of this Atlas bring up some themes in the final pages of this work such as "Fragility or sensitivity to climate change," "Vulnerability to climate change," "Mitigating climate change," and "Adapting to climate change." These themes set the framework for how future climate change studies could develop. The authors highlight possible vulnerabilities for different economic sectors in the region; apiculture and corn cultivation are listed as urgent choices to study in order to ward off threats in the face of possible climate change. For the secondary sector, the authors mention the annatto production industry, transformations required to construct manufacturing plants and the generation of electrical wind energy. In the tertiary sector, the authors indicate possible changes in spaces for ecotourism development and fire risks due to deciduous vegetation that accumulates volumes of highly combustible biomass.

The field of physical geography helps explain the phenomenon of climate change, while the authors designed their study based on the analysis of variables mentioned above. But this work also has an added value. A reference guide of this kind is a tool that goes beyond the pages of the text. It is more than just a conceptual framework to hold information that would otherwise be destroyed at the end of an investigation. Rather, it is a tool that will allow for the addition of other variables in different conceptual areas, and will open the door to questions and future studies on social and economic problems. These will be imperative for the development and survival of alternative policies for communities that are increasingly made up of poor and extremely poor areas that extend throughout rural municipalities in the majority of states along the Yucatán Peninsula. These communities are the places that are facing ever-greater threats from climate warming produced by temperatures and droughts.

Esther Iglesias
Economic Research Institute
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Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Feb 23th, 2018.
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